Animals in Literature and Culture

In the past ten years, scholars across various
disciplines have become increasingly interested in what has been termed “the
question of the animal,” and are taking seriously the animals around us, questioning
not only the human-animal divide, but also the status of animals more
broadly.  This field of “animal
studies” interrogates understandings of animal consciousness and animals as
ethical subjects, while also studying animals within culture and society.  This class will thus examine
representations of animals within literature, poetry, film, paintings, and
other cultural formations from the eighteenth century to our own contemporary
moment, in an effort to interrogate what it means to be an animal, and what it
means to relate with animals.  We
will address issues of pet keeping, the animal point of view, animality,
human-animal differences, animal rights, training, meat eating, and zoos in
order to understand the many ways animals exist in our society and cultural
imaginary.  As we trace these
themes, we will examine how animals collide with other cultural and social
issues, such as race and gender. 
Along with novels, short stories, and poetry, we will read contemporary
philosophical work on animal studies in order to enhance our analytical


Required Texts (tentative):

H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau

Virginia Woolf, Flush

Barbara Gowdy, The White Bone

Linda Hogan, Power

J.M Coetzee, The Lives of Animals

Alice Walker, The Chicken Chronicles

Alain Patrice
Nganang, Dog Days

Ruth Ozeki, My Year of Meats

Course Reader
(short stories, poems, and non-fiction)

Possible film
selections include Buck, Grizzly Man, Cat Ladies and Furever.



Blog posts

Short Essays

Longer final

Attendance and